Experts wary of North Korea using Olympic art troupe for propaganda purposes

Experts wary of North Korea using Olympic art troupe for propaganda purposes

South Korean delegation (L) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) delegation hold talks at the truce village of Panmunjom, Jan. 15, 2018.

But there are criticisms, particularly from conservative political parties, that such precedent should not be applied to the PyeongChang Olympics, which South Korea earned the right to host in 2011 after two unsuccessful bids.

The countries agreed that a top North Korean arts troupe, known as the Samjiyon Band, will give rare performances in South Korea during the Winter Games. Questions still remain about the size of the athlete delegation, whether the countries will march as one in the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony and the possibility of a joint Korean women's ice hockey team competing in the Games. If realized, it would be the Koreas' first unified Olympic team ever.

Both nations were scheduled to meet later this month with International Olympic Committee officials to discuss those plans.

The 2 Koreas agreed at ministerial talks last week that North Korea will send athletes to the Games that begin on February 9th.

"All questions about the participation of DPRK and their athletes in PyeongChang 2018 will be discussed on 20 January", an International Olympic Committee spokesperson said.

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Jeong Seong Jang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said, "For the sake of actual inter-Korean cooperation, the two sides in the working-level talks must discuss the attire, performance content, and other details of the North's art troupe and other groups". Critics say the North may aim to divide Seoul and Washington as a way to weaken USA -led worldwide pressures and sanctions on the country.

South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Games next month in PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul, from February 9 to 25.

"A massive Taegeukgi will be raised at the Olympics stadium during the opening ceremony and whenever South Korean athletes win gold medals", the minister told opposition lawmakers, reassuring them the Taegeukgi would be raised throughout the Olympics period.

Two of its figure skaters initially qualified for the Games, for example, and it's also possible that the two nations might dress an inter-Korean women's hockey team.

North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympics, both held in Seoul, amid Cold War rivalry. The host region's name has been marketed with a capitalised C in order to clearly distinguish it from the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang.

North Korea has insisted its talks with South Korea won't deal with its nuclear and missile programs, saying those weapons primarily target the United States.

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